Major cuts to surging CO2 emissions are needed now, not down the road, study finds

Jan 07, 2013

In 2004 a very popular study aimed to address climate change by deploying wedges of different existing energy technologies or approaches. According to the study by Robert Socolow and Stephen Pacala, each wedge would avoid one billion tons of carbon (1 GtC) emissions per year after 50 years. The study showed that, at that time, seven wedges could stabilize carbon dioxide emissions relative to what would happen if things remained "business-as-usual."

A new perspective paper from a group including Carnegie's Ken Caldeira uses the wedge approach to estimate the size of the energy challenge posed by climate change today. It is published January 9 by Environmental Research Letters.

The perspective's authors showed that as a result of increased emissions, merely achieving what was considered "business-as-usual" in 2004 would require the development and deployment of 12 wedges. Stabilizing emissions at current levels would require another 9 wedges. Decreasing emissions to the level needed to prevent climate change would need an additional 10 wedges. Altogether, 31 wedges would be required to stabilize the Earth's climate.

"To solve the climate problem while providing the energy needed for modern industrial society, new energy technologies must be developed and deployed at an enormous and increasing rate," Caldeira said.

His co-authors are Steven Davis and Long Cao, both formerly of Carnegie, now with University of California Irvine and Zhejiang University in China, respectively, as well as Martin Hoffert of New York University.

Truly addressing climate changes means not just stabilizing emissions, but sharply reducing them over the next 50 years, the authors said. This would require more than just improving existing technologies, they added.

"It's not enough to freeze greenhouse gas emissions at current levels. To prevent climate change, we need to stop dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at industrial scale", said Caldeira. "The original study showed that we can solve a large part of the problem with existing technologies, but solving the whole problem requires new technologies deployed at massive scale."

Current technologies and systems cannot provide the equivalent amounts of carbon-free energy needed soon enough or affordably enough to achieve this transformation, the perspective says. Fundamental, disruptive changes to the global energy system are required.

"Most of the greenhouse gas emissions expected this century are expected to come from the developing world in the second half of the century. A central challenge of the first half of this century is to develop the energy technologies that will be needed in the second half of the century," Caldeira said. "Existing technologies just cannot provide the massive amounts of carbon-neutral power needed later this century. Solving the climate problem will be both difficult and necessary."

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User comments : 18

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ScooterG
2 / 5 (29) Jan 07, 2013
Oh my Gawd, it's worse than we thought! We `gonna' die tomorrow if we don't do something today!

If the situation is so dire, why not take an easy first step? - immediately ban all carbonated beverages. That alone will buy earth a few more days.
Doug_Huffman
1.9 / 5 (22) Jan 07, 2013
Read Christopher Monckton's wonderful essay 'The logical case against climate panic'.
antialias_physorg
3.1 / 5 (17) Jan 07, 2013
Read Christopher Monckton's wonderful essay 'The logical case against climate panic'.

I just did. It's exactly what it purports to attack: an opinion piece (while attacking solid science as 'opinion' itself)

If that's supposed to be some sort of 'strong argument' piece against global warming then they're really grasping at straws (made of smoke).
Meyer
1.4 / 5 (9) Jan 07, 2013
I call shenanigans.
Modernmystic
2 / 5 (15) Jan 07, 2013
At least they're talking about nuclear power, as should anyone who's serious about avoiding the coming problems with climate change.
runrig
3.3 / 5 (12) Jan 07, 2013
Read Christopher Monckton's wonderful essay 'The logical case against climate panic'.


Would you like to read a rebuttal of "Lord" Monckton's science on the subject by real scientists? Probably not - but I'll post the link for others. A thoroughly stupid man.

http://www.skepti...onse.pdf
jonnyboy
1.6 / 5 (19) Jan 07, 2013
Read Christopher Monckton's wonderful essay 'The logical case against climate panic'.


Would you like to read a rebuttal of "Lord" Monckton's science on the subject by real scientists? Probably not - but I'll post the link for others. A thoroughly stupid man.

a whole lot of assertions that, as usual, are way short on facts.
Howhot
3.2 / 5 (13) Jan 07, 2013
You lame-o deniers are such jokes. Answer this video ye-old-turdites.

http://www.youtub...embedded
The Alchemist
1.5 / 5 (15) Jan 08, 2013
Here's the thing, it is not the source of CO2 that's the issue. Really, how long do you think it would take to suck up CO2 if we just stopped producing it? Days? Weeks? No significant time: So what is happening?
The Earth USED to have plenty of capacity to suck up all the CO2 man could produce, plus much more. As usual the media presents facts, and confuses the cause. This seems to be endemic of modern media: It's hard to know what "facts" are real, in any story.

Aside: Wind power is cheap, requiring only 1920's tech., and being mounted 40 plus feet above your home, where wind always blows.
runrig
3 / 5 (6) Jan 08, 2013
" Read Christopher Monckton's wonderful essay 'The logical case against climate panic'. "

Would you like to read a rebuttal of "Lord" Monckton's science on the subject by real scientists? Probably not - but I'll post the link for others. A thoroughly stupid man.

a whole lot of assertions that, as usual, are way short on facts.


What?? Moncton's "facts" or those of the scientists rebutting him?
See this vid for more on Moncton. it's long but you only need to watch for a bit to see how he pulls the fast one on people.

http://www.youtub...XxWBsulk
mountain_team_guy
1.6 / 5 (13) Jan 08, 2013
Climate change. So perilous. So clear and immediate a threat to our future. Yet, so few calls from the same voices to embrace nuclear. Kinda makes me wonder. Exactly how deadly is climate change really going to be? Exactly how soon must we react to avoid this threat? Can we spare enough time to develop a reasonable battery for transportation and solar purposes? Can we wait until we have visible evidence that the climate models are legitimate? Do they expect China to shutter all it's coal power plants? WTF do they want?
NikFromNYC
1.9 / 5 (14) Jan 08, 2013
The Alchemist
1 / 5 (13) Jan 09, 2013
@mountain team guy- Visible evidence?! You're soaking in it, it's all around you. What are you looking for? A 5 degree change everyday of the year? Think about the ramifications of such a "small" change.
We can do all these things, wind (1920's technology) solar (decent now), batteries (lead storage are cheap). LEDs make lighting productive, etc & etc.
But you raise a good q., Why don't we do it?
My suspicion: We know how to be taxed and pay for gas out of the pump. We don't know how we pay & tax free power. Somebody needs to tell politicians & oil that there is very little difference in effort between the alternatives, and they can tax one just as well as the other. (Oh so your house is 2000 sq ft?, your wind generator is putting out 200 additional kwhs? That'll be $200/month, made payable to Uncle Sam, thanks.)
It's just perspective, although a hard one to grasp.
VendicarD
2.8 / 5 (9) Jan 09, 2013
Monkdon isn't a particularly honest gentleman.

His history of lying includes, falsely claiming to be a british lord, to claiming to have a cure for cancer.

"Read Christopher Monckton's" - DougTard

I prefer honesty.

Why don't you Doug?
jonnyboy
2.1 / 5 (15) Jan 12, 2013
Monkdon isn't a particularly honest gentleman.

His history of lying includes, falsely claiming to be a british lord, to claiming to have a cure for cancer.

"Read Christopher Monckton's" - DougTard

I prefer honesty.

Why don't you Doug?


practice what you preach, you lie more than anyone else that posts here (other than your sockpuppets, of course)
JoeBlue
1.6 / 5 (13) Jan 12, 2013
Yeah, yeah, we are all going to die, so we should drop everything and give up everything in our lives to stop Mother Nature from killing us.
Shootist
1.6 / 5 (13) Jan 12, 2013
Looking forward to growing oranges in Alaska.
Howhot
3 / 5 (6) Jan 13, 2013
Shootist says:
Looking forward to growing oranges in Alaska
You really need to think about what your asking. You must be either incredibly stupid or your just plain sadistic (ie; hating earth). You know a better nickname for you should be shitlist. That sounds perfect for you.

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